Hurricane Olaf gains strength as it heads towards central Pacific

A Nasa image showing Tropical Storm Olaf as it heads towards the central Pacific, on Oct 18, 2015.
A Nasa image showing Tropical Storm Olaf as it heads towards the central Pacific, on Oct 18, 2015. PHOTO: AFP/MASA

MIAMI (AFP) - Hurricane Olaf gained strength Monday (Oct 19) as it churned far offshore heading towards the central Pacific, US forecasters said, warning it was on track to become more powerful.

The National Hurricane Center (NHC) said that Olaf, a Category 2 storm, was forecast to become a major hurricane by late Monday.

At 0900 GMT (5pm Singapore time), the storm was located some 2,275km east-southeast of Hilo, Hawaii, packing maximum sustained winds of 160kph, the Miami-based NHC said.

Olaf is moving west at about 19kph, and is expected to turn to the west-northwest late Monday.

Although there are currently no coastal watches or warnings in effect, on its projected path the outer bands of Hurricane Olaf are likely to brush the Hawaii islands.